Vendor Marries Google-Microsoft E-Mail in the Cloud

Cemaphore Systems has created an application that synchronizes e-mail content between Outlook and Exchange and Gmail. Call it disaster recovery in the cloud.

The beauty of cloud-based computing is that it can enable companies to break down the barriers between disparate and even competing applications.

That's why Cemaphore Systems is leveraging the popular SAAS (software as a service) model to synchronize users' e-mail, calendars and contacts between Microsoft Outlook and Exchange and Gmail.

Launched March 26, MailShadow for Google, or MailShadowG, lets individual users, small and midsize businesses and enterprises access their Outlook e-mail application from Google's servers instead of through Exchange. The application also copies that information on the fly to preserve it in Google's servers.

MailShadowG synchronizes all content in real-time, duplicating the content and allowing users to view it from Outlook or via Google's Gmail, Calendar and Contacts, said Cemaphore President and CEO Tyrone Pike. For example, calendar entries in Microsoft Outlook will appear in Google Calendar. Or, e-mails sent from Outlook will appear in Gmail.

MailShadowG does this by mapping the repository that exists in Exchange to Google's server through Google's APIs. By using a Google server as their data repository, Pike said, customers can eliminate the need for server hardware and co-location facilities.

Disaster Recovery Drive By

The software is, simply, synchronization and disaster recovery in the cloud.

"What we're doing is building you a complete shadow of yourself in another location," Pike said. "If your main location blows up, you can failover in seconds to this other one and keep working."

Noting that Outlook is the most widely used messaging client in the workplace and that Gmail is widely used for work and personal email, as well as calendaring and contact information, Osterman Research analyst Michael Osterman said integrating the two systems will benefit a wide range of users and organizations.

High-tech pundit Robert Scoble noted in a March 26 blog post that while Google also provides synchronization between Outlook and Gmail, it is inferior to Cemaphore's software.

Pike acknowledged that getting in bed with Google by providing a way to let users view Outlook e-mail from a Google interface puts Cemaphore in an awkward position with Microsoft.

"We have a close relationship with Microsoft that's probably a little more difficult today because of the fact that we've been working with Google," Pike said.

MailShadowG will be in public beta in mid-April as an Outlook plug-in, but Pike said Cemaphore could charge up to $50 per user per year for the application when it launches later this year.

Cemaphore plans to provide SAAS-based MailShadow for other e-mail service providers in the future, and Pike said he would love to provide a similar service for MSN Live Mail and Yahoo's Webmail.

Cempahore was founded in 2002. The company has an OEM relationship with EMC, building the caching layer for EMC's Legato Extender archiving software.

Cemaphore is also the first company to whom Microsoft licensed its Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol to provide disaster recovery for e-mail content generated by Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server.